Excel for Advisory: Enhancing Your Firm’s Client Reporting

Clients don’t just want numbers, they want a roadmap. And they’re increasingly looking for accountants who can provide strategic guidance. Luckily, businesses are sitting on a goldmine of data – expenses, cash flow records, sales figures that can form the basis for a detailed analysis. They just need an accountant to show them the way. 

As is the nature of the market, a whole range of off-the-shelf reporting solutions have popped up, promising to create advisory-level outputs in just a few clicks. The only challenge is that, well, they don’t work. 

There’s a world of difference between a cookie-cutter cash-flow report and a tailored analysis that reveals mission-critical information that your clients really need. 

If you want to deliver insights that make a tangible difference for your clients and expand your service mix – and you really should – then you need tools that can deliver reliable results. Given that leading reporting software tends to fall short, Excel remains the best in the game for reporting. The challenge is scaling the service – that’s where the right software and processes make a huge difference.

Here we’ll look at why still advisory matters, why Excel still leads the pack and how you can build an efficient, value-driving advisory practice.

Why the Advisory Advantage Persists

For many firms, advisory is hardly a new concept. Answering clients’ tricky questions about their business is just part of the job – “Why aren’t I making enough money”, “How is my cash flow looking?”, “How do I reduce costs?” are close to a daily chorus for accountants.

The result is that much of your most impactful input – the advice that drives major decisions in your clients businesses – is delivered in time-billed meetings, or even for free. And given the value-driving potential, this is seriously underselling yourself. By expanding the scope of your professional advice into a consistent offering, you can benefit from:

✅ More in-depth client conversations based on shared visibility and insight

✅ Closer relationships based on your role as a valued part of their decision-making process

✅ More robust data gathering and processing as a result of higher demands from forecasting and analysis

✅ Higher per-client revenue, with bills that clients are happy to pay because they can see the difference you’re making to their bottom line (since you’re the one reporting it to them!)

The strategic shift for advisory services is packaging this up in a processized, proactive and pragmatic way that can deliver results for clients at scale. 

The challenge is that this is, by nature, a fundamentally different service from the standard accounting playbook. Instead of running a checklist of processes for each compliance client, for example, firms need to work out how to scale in-depth, personalized advice on a client-by-client basis. 

This requires a different approach, but familiar tools still have a big part to play.

Choosing Your Advisory Toolkit

As in other areas of accounting services, choosing the right technology stack is essential for delivering high-impact advisory value. 

  • While off-the-shelf reporting tools can generate basic outputs, they often lack the flexibility to meet the dynamic demands of today’s clients.  
  • Generic reports offer little room for the bespoke analysis that translates into actionable insights. 
  • The lack of customization in reporting tools means that every report ends up requiring extensive manual edits, removing any ostensible ‘efficiency gains’ promised. 

3 Reasons Why Excel Still Leads The Way

Advisory is built on personalized services. As every accountant knows, there is no ‘average’ SMB – despite the claims of automated reporting solutions, this usually means hours customizing tools that were meant to make your life easier.

You’re stuck choosing between a ‘simple’ solution that misses half of the necessary features or a ‘powerful’ tool that demands hundreds of edits for every report. That ‘s why Excel remains the most effective platform to create and customize financial data reporting on a client by client basis. 

1. Accessibility

Most finance professionals already possess a strong foundation in Excel, minimizing onboarding time and maximizing efficiency.

2. Unmatched Flexibility 

Unlike rigid platforms that force you into pre-set formats, Excel gives you the freedom to shape financial models and reports to precisely address individual client needs. This adaptability is the key to delivering truly insightful analysis.

3. Data Powerhouse

Combined with cloud data, Excel becomes your always-updated hub for financial data. The challenge is to efficiently access Xero or QuickBooks information, eliminating time-wasting imports and enabling up-to-the-minute scenario planning and KPI tracking.

Optimizing Excel for Advisory

Scott’s Add-Ins transform Excel from a simple spreadsheet tool into your advisory command centre. By providing a seamless, real-time link between Excel and cloud accounting platforms like Xero and QuickBooks, you can export data with confidence into templates that deliver for your clients.

  • Analyze, Don’t Just Assemble: Focus on interpreting data, not chasing it down. Make real-time adjustments to models and scenarios.
  • Build Trust with Accuracy: Eliminate error-prone data transfers to create reliable, value-driving reports.
  • Update Instantly: Market shifts? Unexpected expense? Your updated analyses and forecasts are a few clicks away, not a day-long project.
  • Effortless Customization: Tailor P&Ls, budget comparisons, KPI dashboards – every report reflects their unique needs.

Case Study: Andersen UK Streamlines Client Reporting with Scott’s Add-Ins

Andersen UK, a firm specializing in crypto tax and accounting services, faced a familiar dilemma: clients needed more insight into their complex portfolios and earnings. However, Excel’s power had its limits, and rigid reporting platforms couldn’t deliver the customization their clients demanded. Head of Finance, David Altman, needed to scale advisory services with in-depth information without worrying about:

  • Errors from manual data entry
  • Clunky, repetitive month-end workflows
  • Difficulty generating partner-specific P&Ls

After exploring alternatives, Andersen discovered Scott’s Add-Ins.  The seamless Excel integration was a game-changer:

  • Real-Time Data: Pulling information directly from accounting software eliminates manual bottlenecks and error risks.
  • No more VLOOKUP frustrations: Upgrading to XLOOKUP further enhanced the data retrieval process.
  • Instant updates: “Our numbers refresh in about 10 seconds,” says Altman, drastically improving efficiency.

By integrating with Excel, Scott’s add-ins eliminated time-consuming manual data entry, streamlined reporting tasks, and enabled David’s team to generate tailored insights like partner-specific P&Ls. The result was not only a more efficient practice but also the ability to confidently deliver the customized advisory services that clients in complex fields like crypto tax demand.

Bringing Your Reporting Solutions Into Now

As the race for efficient advisory heats up, Scott’s Add-ins is your comprehensive solution for combining Excel’s in-depth analysis capabilities with cloud data processing. Leave canned reporting to firms who settle for token advice and use Excel to help your clients make the most out of their opportunities. Scott’s includes:

  • Seamless cloud integration for Excel with QuickBooks and Xero.
  • Real-time data refresh to ensure reports are up-to-date and relevant
  • Enhanced functionality to add financial reporting and analysis functions to Excel
  • Automated data entry for Excel 

With the data and formulas you need at your fingertips, accountants can create speedy reports that have a major ROI for clients and your bottom line – even though they only take a few minutes to create.

To find out more, watch our free webinar How To Build Bespoke Management Accounts in less than 60 Minutes or start your free trial with Scott’s add-ins today.

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